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Learning By Doing vs Learning By Reading


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#1 snǝɥʇǝɯoɹd   Members   -  Reputation: 190

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 05:41 PM

I have reached an impasse, or what I consider an impasse, I am currently reading Beginning C++ Through Game Programming, Third Edition by Michael Dawson, and I can't read more then a few pages before I have to put it down again. It took me about two weeks just to get through Chapter 1 Types, Variables, and Standard I/O: Lost Fortune.

 

Its not that I'm a bad reader, on the contrary  I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows in a Weeknight front to back, but I just can't seem to read this book. So my question is, can I learn programming from reading and doing the example projects, or should I switch to doing my own projects and referencing to the book and the internet when I reach a problem.

 

This has become a really big problem for me as I'm a very fast learner (I'm Currently taking AP Classes and AICE) and my lack of progress, or what i perceive to be lack of progress, is really frustrating me, and the more frustrated I get the less I want to read the book, and the longer it will ever take for me to master this or any language in general. I would really like some feedback on this issue as I have read some topics on this and still haven't decided by myself.


Edited by ʎʇıןɐǝɹpǝʇuǝɯbnɐ, 11 February 2013 - 05:58 PM.


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#2 L. Spiro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 13268

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 06:11 PM

If it frustrates you so, why are you trying to do it that way?

It doesn’t matter what or how.  You can’t learn anything without motivation.

If this method is not motivating for you, find one that is.

 

It seems to me that you are just trying to go this route because you somehow calculated that this is the best way.

Lesson in life: The best way is always the way most suitable to you.  And in your case it is obviously not by reading.

 

 

I wanted to give a generalized answer first because it is the most important lesson in life you can ever learn: Learn how to learn.

 

For your specific task, programming generally is better-learned hands-on.  In fact most things are.

And in your case, it’s obvious.  Put the book down and start coding.

 

 

L. Spiro


Edited by L. Spiro, 11 February 2013 - 06:11 PM.

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#3 medevilenemy   Members   -  Reputation: 315

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 06:14 PM

I can't really tell you what the right way to learn is.  Different people learn in different ways.  I, for one, learned the hard way.  I started teaching myself C in 7th grade (some 12 or so years ago now) with an incredibly outdated compiler and a reference book nearly as old (http://www.amazon.com/First-Book-Fundamentals-Programming/dp/0314813489).  I didn't really read the book through, but rather used the examples and such in the back as a start and referred to the appropriate chapters for explanation/help as needed. 

 

My general thinking is that books and classes are good (assuming you have a good book / good teacher) for learning the syntax rules and such, but I think experience (and discussion) tends to be a better teacher of design skills and what I call an adaptive understanding of the language... that is, the ability to understand not only how things work (not just how you're told to use them) and how to combine them without external direction to achieve a certain goal.


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#4 snǝɥʇǝɯoɹd   Members   -  Reputation: 190

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 06:22 PM

You may be right about me calculating this approach to learning, only because that was the best solution I found to learning, or attempt to understand c++. My frustration is not with programming or anything like that but with what I myself view as a lack of progress, maybe from someone else's prospective i'm doing totally fine, but i feel like I'm not getting anywhere, that is wear my frustration lies, I am totally motivated to learn, I just don't know what approach to take, and the current one I am following just bores me to death. On the flip side I feel like my not competent enough to approach coding on my own, because I still feel like a totally nub. Maybe I'm over-thinking this but I feel that if I keep doing it that way I am currently doing it I will never get anywhere.


Edited by ʎʇıןɐǝɹpǝʇuǝɯbnɐ, 11 February 2013 - 06:24 PM.


#5 Anri   Members   -  Reputation: 597

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 06:43 PM

Learning your first language is hard enough without throwing games development into the mix.  Best to get a book on C++ first then look at a games development book once you become more confident with C++.

 

Remember that programming games is hard graft and is certainly not learnt over night - "Rome was not built in one day!".  You are a beginner, so why are you expecting to perform miracles? Eh? Be kind to yourself and take your time to experiment from what you learn from your books...and it will eventually become clear.



#6 snǝɥʇǝɯoɹd   Members   -  Reputation: 190

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 06:50 PM

My first thought went I read your reply is "Well, maybe I should start looking for some general programming." But then I stop and think, I might just end up where I am now, trying to read an book and constantly losing interest probably because Its not the way I learn.



#7 Chad Smith   Members   -  Reputation: 1102

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 08:02 PM

Everyone learns different. I would not say their is any one way to learn programming well, except only thing in common is practice, practice, practice, oh and more practice.

When I first started learning programming everything I read I found a way to put into code and coded something. No matter if it wasn't fancy or if it was stupid and dumb. I coded it and enjoyed it. Now I'm to the point where I can't find myself to code. Not because I don't enjoy it now, I enjoy it more than ever still. It's because I for some reason all of a sudden started to care about how awesome something was coded instead of the project in general.

That is what is important in my opinion. Just code. Don't worry about how fancy or nice the code is. Just code. If you need/want help try your book, Internet, or ask here. Though just code. When your done with a project post it here and ask for a code review or something. So many people here will review your code and give you good suggestions. Then code some more and before you know it you'll be here answering questions for people. You will always be learning programming though. Professionals learn something new or different every project. Just keep coding and learning.

I guess you can say my suggestion is to just code, code, code. Need help look at your book or ask here. Though while beginning coding don't always worry about making it all fancy and nice code. You will never actually do or learn anything then. That's my problem right now.

Wish you best of luck

#8 kd7tck   Members   -  Reputation: 715

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 08:05 PM

It sounds like you might learn differently than others, maybe a visual learner.

 

I recommend that you try reading the headfirst series. Allot of the programming books out right now are written in a way that slows visual learning. The headfirst series has a novel way of dealing with visual learners, it describes everything not only on words but visually as well.

 

lastly, visual learners do better with video tutorials, try youtube programming tutorials.


Edited by kd7tck, 11 February 2013 - 08:07 PM.


#9 minibutmany   Members   -  Reputation: 1578

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 08:19 PM

Its making the mistake a few times that teaches you to remember to write code for the "key-up" event when you character won't stop moving off the screen.

There are so many different things that can go wrong and right with code, it's hard for a book to show you all that, and it probably won't cover the things that end up being your personal problems later on. Books are great for getting some syntax down, but you need to get into the nitty-gritty of programming with experience.

Technology moves so fast that you don't want to spend 30 or 40 bucks on a book about some SDK that was old new yesterday.

The head first books are pretty nice, if your into having fireside chats with computers and really big close-ups of weirdos.

 

You may find that "Programming" is madly boring, but programming is madly fun, y'know what I mean?


Edited by minibutmany, 11 February 2013 - 08:21 PM.

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#10 Benderwiz   Members   -  Reputation: 162

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 08:46 PM

I'm currently 1/2 way through the book.

 

The way I do it is not to download the example files and type the code out by hand. Create your own and make some extra stuff up as you go along. I've been reading this book for maybe 4 days now and over 1/2 way and made a tone of my own little "games".

 

I tried to read it at first like yourself but you don't really learn unless you do it.

 

This works for me but not everyone.



#11 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4688

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 09:24 PM

If it frustrates you so, why are you trying to do it that way?

It doesn’t matter what or how.  You can’t learn anything without motivation.

If this method is not motivating for you, find one that is.

 

It seems to me that you are just trying to go this route because you somehow calculated that this is the best way.

Lesson in life: The best way is always the way most suitable to you.  And in your case it is obviously not by reading.

 

 

I wanted to give a generalized answer first because it is the most important lesson in life you can ever learn: Learn how to learn.

 

For your specific task, programming generally is better-learned hands-on.  In fact most things are.

And in your case, it’s obvious.  Put the book down and start coding.

 

 

L. Spiro

 

And this has been another "Lesson in Life, with L. Spiro" smile.png

 

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Edited by Alpha_ProgDes, 11 February 2013 - 09:25 PM.

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#12 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4073

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 09:49 PM

I find that non-technical books are quite a different beast than technical books. So I wouldn't compare reading a Harry Potter book with reading a programming book.

 

You have to stop quite often to review things, or to research something with technical books. Something you would do with other kind of books if say, you didn't knew half the words in them, but you probably know English pretty well so you don't have those issues with Harry Potter.

 

With the programming book instead, you often read them because you actually don't know half of the things the book mentions, so it is expected that it takes more time to read it. It's just a different kind of read. That's all.


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#13 Trienco   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2122

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 11:25 PM

If it's a good book (based on my personal definition of "good"), it should have a few questions and practical exercises after each chapter. If you can get yourself to actually want to solve these exercises, skip to the end and read them first.

 

Personally, if what I read isn't directly related to a task I need to solve, then my attention is low and you basically force yourself to read stuff you don't care about. Once you can see how it directly relates to something you want to do, it magically becomes a lot more interesting.

 

Also: doing is the most important part. Example: I read a lot about git, all the theory and how you usually do things. In the end all I had was a confused understanding of weird trees and some magical recipes how to do things. Which were useless the moment something didn't work as expected and left me pretty helpless. Once I started actually working with it and had to solve some actual real life issues, reading about it again suddenly made much more sense and I started to "get it".


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#14 EddieV223   Members   -  Reputation: 1406

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 01:04 AM

Let me put it to you this way.

 

You don't know what to write until you have read.

 

but you don't know what you read until you write.


If this post or signature was helpful and/or constructive please give rep.

 

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#15 NightCreature83   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2738

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 03:18 AM

You may be right about me calculating this approach to learning, only because that was the best solution I found to learning, or attempt to understand c++. My frustration is not with programming or anything like that but with what I myself view as a lack of progress, maybe from someone else's prospective i'm doing totally fine, but i feel like I'm not getting anywhere, that is wear my frustration lies, I am totally motivated to learn, I just don't know what approach to take, and the current one I am following just bores me to death. On the flip side I feel like my not competent enough to approach coding on my own, because I still feel like a totally nub. Maybe I'm over-thinking this but I feel that if I keep doing it that way I am currently doing it I will never get anywhere.

Stop the book, I have had this issue myself during my undergraduate years and I had to do a step back to a more practical approach (even switched schools, uni to college did end up with an MSc in the end though). I understood all of the theoretical stuff just lacked the vision to apply what I was reading to an actual programming task. Once I realised how to solve problems in a programming language syntax, the rest just slotted in place. I am still catching up with a lot of stuff right now but that's more out of my interest and your reading attention and interest then also changes, I found the open course from MIT and Standford to be really interesting to watch as well.

 

Coding is a lot of reading of other peoples code and syntax of the language to be honest, which is often best approached by taking some ones code and modifying it to do what you want it to do.


 


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#16 Sporniket   Members   -  Reputation: 331

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 04:59 AM

Hello, you might feel stucked because you lack some fundation in programming. At your age, when I attempted to write a simple Tetris, I didn't had the basic knowledge (algorithmic, data modelling and processing, etc...) and thus struggled for weeks to write what would take me up to a few hours now. And it was in basic, not c++.

 

So, I would recommand to get those fundations first.

 

And also, don't try to use all the feature of c++ at once.

 

Hope this helps.


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#17 SaurabhTorne   Members   -  Reputation: 252

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 06:00 AM

One tiny victory at a time. If its taking more time, break that into smaller tasks.

Yeah those programming books are too much info into small pieces. Reference books are better, they take time to read but every thing is well detailed. If you know the principle behind it, it will be easy to understand the next concept.

If a book is taking too much time, take another book.



#18 Karsten_   Members   -  Reputation: 1575

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 09:17 AM

Everyone does it differently.

Perhaps try jumping into the game and when you hit a wall (and you will know when you have) and you have tried for a while to hack around the issue, then you will be more than happy to pick up the book and find out a solution to your problem because you will be frustrated by the code at this point.

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#19 jwezorek   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1794

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 02:57 PM

I have a hard time reading programming books -- especially to learn a language. Learning a first language from a book, I think, is basically impossible. What you need to do is 

  1. find a good book (Don't know if C++ Though Game Programming is good or bad -- but I do know there are more bad programming books in the world than good so be careful and listen to what other people say regarding book selection)
  2. read the beginning chapters over and over to get you to the point at which you can get something on the screen, something slightly more than Hello World.
  3. Put the book down for a long time. Weeks.
  4. Try to program something. Use the internet when you get stuck but don't just cut-and-paste other people's code. (In fact, when you are learning a first language, never cut-and-paste code)
  5. When you get really stuck, pick the book back up.
  6. Repeat.

I don't know what it would be like to start out now. When I was learning how to program things were different. My generation started out with BASIC built into our computers when we were 8 years old and then learned Pascal in high school and then switched to C and assembly at some point. By the time we started to learn C++ we had been programming for years literally. I don't know what it would be like to start with C++ but I think it would be hard. 

 

I think the key thing is you need to replicate the period that for me was playing around with BASIC. You need to play around with programming for a while and then getting serious about it just happens natually.



#20 agentultra   Members   -  Reputation: 190

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 03:48 PM

Give yourself small victories.

 

One of the hardest lessons for a young, intelligent person to learn is to finish things. We can trick ourselves into thinking our intuition is as good as our knowledge. We grasp the fundamentals easily and absorb new information like a sponge. The problem is that nothing beats practical, hard-earned knowledge. Everybody has to come by it the same way whether they're of above-average intelligence or just average: practice.

 

One way I've learned how to beat this is to choose a small, humble task and implement it. Finishing something is very rewarding and rewards you with experience and knowledge. After you complete one immediately pick another more difficult task. After doing this a few times you may find that you'll start having ideas about how to improve your earlier works. Don't be afraid to go back and improve on them.

 

I'll leave you with one last piece of advice: learn to convince yourself. I picked this up from mathematics. It's the principle of proof. Don't be satisfied when someone tells you that it is so. Convince yourself that it is true. By doing so you will have to work your way through the entire problem and understand it completely. And by extension you will have expanded your knowledge again.

 

So just start with a number-guessing game you can play at a terminal prompt. Then try making a master-mind game. Then maybe a text-adventure. Then try opening a graphical window. Make some sprites. Before you know it you'll have your own custom game engine and won't be able to stop obsessing about it.

 

And as for books, I just use three: The C++ Programming Language, Effective C++, and Expert C Programming. When I'm stumped on something I either dive into the source or refer to one of these books. If I can't get an answer that way I search Stack Overflow. If I still can't get an answer I'll post something here (if it's game development related of course).






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